Friday, February 3, 2012

Cesarean Awareness

September 23, 2010 I had my son, Gabriel, via emergency c-section at Lutheran Hospital. I labored (he was posterior and cause back labor) without pain meds for about 5 hours and made it to 9 1/2 cm or so. I had been in early labor for a week or so prior to this. My doctor broke my waters around 6cm to "speed things along" (though I was progressing normally). I agreed because who wouldn't want to get done with labor faster!? What I didn't know and what my doctor didn't tell me, is that since Gabriel was posterior (head down but facing backwards) breaking my waters increased the likelihood of a prolapsed cord which is life-threatening to the baby. He needed the extra cushion and support the water provided to turn, he also needed more time. Once I was nearly fully dilated my doctor kept asking me "do you feel like pushing?" "Are you ready to push?" over-and-over-and-over! My mom never felt the urge to push and apparently I was the same because the doc said I looked "ready." Then, the nurse told me to switch positions NOW! Apparently Gabe's cord had prolapsed (dropped in front of the cervix) and I was rushed off to get a c-section. I awoke confused, not realizing that I had given birth, and unable to speak clearly, and unable to sit up or move because of the pain-excrutiating pain. When I saw Gabriel he was swaddled and I just saw his face- his perfect little face. I cried from joy, but I also cried from grief and disappointment. A mother should be able to see the birth of her child.
My 1st view of Gabriel
Holding him for the first time, I needed help because I was to weak to position him properly.

Many family and friends kept telling me, "You should just be happy that you have a healthy baby." That is like telling a woman who has survived breast cancer but lost most of her hair and had to have her breasts removed "You should just be happy that you are alive." She is missing part of her identity as a woman and deserves to grieve this and have people realize that it is a real issue. Since girlhood I have dreamt of being a mom; I always knew I wanted to get married and have multiple children. Part of a woman and a mother's identity is her ability to birth a child, her ability to cope with and survive labor. It is a privilege that only mothers experience, and I feel as if I have been robbed of this. I love Gabriel dearly, he is everything to Jaime and I- I just don't love the way he had to come into this world.
Standing on my own for the first time post-surgery (Gabe is 2 days old)- you may not be able to tell but I'm in pain. 

I am sharing my story to help make women aware of what toll a cesarean takes on a woman. It's not as simple as "well she didn't even have to push, she was cut open," and any other myths there may be about c-sections. I also want to help women achieve a natural, satisfying, healthy, and safe birth. That is why I have decided to become a doula (labor assistant). A doula helps a woman during pregnancy and specifically during labor through relaxation, visualization, massage, support, advocacy (especially at a hospital against unnecessary interventions that are often considered "routine"), partner support, breastfeeding support, and much more. Since Gabriel's birth I have known that I want to help other mothers, I am so EXCITED to have finally found my calling! I told my husband and he stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said "Oh my goodness, Sweetie, it's you!! I always knew you were meant to help people, this is perfect for you." This confirmed my feelings that becoming a doula is what I am meant to do.

Also, as I have researched VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), being a doula, and natural childbirth, it has helped me heal from my own traumatic birth experience. I hope that in the future, I can help women heal from a c-section and realize that they are STRONG, capable, beautiful women who still took part in the miracle of life. If you have had a c-section and desire to have a vaginal birth next time, visit for great support and information.


  1. im really disappointed with the lack of availability of VBACS for women. have you considered home birth for the next babies?

  2. Yes, that is what I am hoping to do. The trouble is finding an available midwife in the Des Moines/Ames area that is willing to do a VBAC. After reading a book from the library and searching on-line, home birth sounds like the right option for me (I wish I had educated myself about it with my last pregnancy!).